De Vallemont, Chevalier Ricon
D'lndreville, Charles Gruel
Platerus, a noted seventeenth century physician who took a great interest in giants, reported seeing "a young man at Luneuburg called Jacob Damman, who for his extraordinary stature was carried through Germany to be seen. Anno 1613 he was brought to us at Basil; he was then twenty-three years and a half of age; beardless as yet, strong of body and limbs, save that at that time he was rather sick and lean; he was nine feet high complete; the length of his hand was one foot six inches."26
De Vallemont, Chevalier Ricon
An ancient tomb that some ditch diggers uncovered in Rouen, France, in 1509, contained the skeleton of a man over seventeen feet tall, in his armor. Affixed to the tomb was this engraved identification: "In this tomb lies the noble and puissant lord, the Chevalier Ricon de Vallemont, and his bones." (See Graveyards of the Giants)
D'lndreville, Charles Gruel
His seven feet six inches made Charles Gruel d'lndreville, of Nesle, in Normandy, the tallest Frenchman of his day. As a young man he enlisted as a private in the imperial army, but quickly rose to the rank of sub-lieutenant. He fought in the battles of Wagram and Moscow. When he returned to France he set up a glassworks that became famous, even drawing several visits from King Louis Philippe himself. He belonged to the Legion of Honor. In 1860, at the age of seventy-one, he died near Rouen.27
In 1837, a young giant left the service of the King of the Nether-lands and exhibited himself for money at Parma. He reportedly stood eight feet ten and three-quarters inches, and weighed four hun-dred and one pounds.28
In its August 1, 1732, issue, the Daily Post thought it worth a paragraph to let its readers know that "about the middle of July, an Irishman named Fitzgerald who was seven feet high and a lieutenant in the King of Prussia's Guards, came to London." (See Potsdam Giants)
In his Origines Antwerpianoe, 1569, and De Gigantomachia, royal physician Johannes Goropius Becanus reports that a youth almost nine feet tall and a woman about ten feet tall lived near his home in Flanders.
Frederick III, a descendant of the Cimbri and father of the giant Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian, also awed his viewers, for he was, declares Friedrich Heer, "physically ... a giant, of immense corpulence." (See Maximilian)
Frederick William's Giants (See Potsdam Giants)
In 1829, Louis Frenz, a seven-foot-four-inch Frenchman, came to London seeking his fortune. During his tour, his portrait was engraved and a cast of his giant hand was made for the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons in London. Frenz reportedly had a brother taller than himself and two sisters almost as tall.29
German Giants' Annihilation
The Nephilim genes that caused the Celts to grow into giants also made the Cimbri and the Teutones giants, for, according to historians, they were also Celts, but even more so. Explains Gerhard Herm: "The Teutones and Cimbri were Germans; these in turn were not just one of the great Celtic family of peoples, as opposed to the Scythian one, but the very heart of that family. They were the most Celtic of the Celts."30 Posidonius, who journeyed to Massilia and Spain to gather some history on these peoples, definitely classified the Teutones as Celts. But Strabo, described as "Posidonius' faithful interpreter," identified them also as a German people who lived east of the Rhine. They differed from the Celts of the left bank, he wrote, only by being "wilder, taller, and have yellower hair." The Romans who lived in Gaul, he goes on to say, "called them 'Germani' because they wanted to indicate that they were the 'authentic,' the real Celts. Germani means in their language 'genuine' in the sense of original."31
Of course, by the end of the second century B.C., Rome had become well acquainted with the Germani's Gallic cousins. For nearly three centuries her armies had fought against these giants. That experience eventually shaped the legionnaires into a most effective military force. For, as Polybius remarks, "Once they had got used to being struck down by Gauls they were incapable of imagining anything worse."32 There was, of course, something worse: the Cimbri and the Teutones, of the Germani, the most Celtic of the Celts. During Caesar's later campaign against Ariovistus, some of his men asked some Gauls at Besanconwho were themselves of great statureabout the Germans. "They described the Germans," Caesar writes, "mentioning their enormous physique, their unbelievable valor, and extraordinary military training. The Gauls said that often when they had encountered the Germans they had not been able to endure even the expression on their faces or the glare of their eyes."33 Plutarch also portrays them as possessing "invincible strength and courage: in battle they attack with the force and speed of five and no one can withstand them."34
The Romans first encountered these "berserkers," as they are sometimes described, in the year 113 B.C. But despite their recent successes against the huge Gauls they simply were not ready for the even huger German giants. Within the space of a few years, the Cimbri and the Teutones, with whom the giant Ambrones had lately associated themselves, met four Roman armies on the battlefield and destroyed them all.
Besides being taller, blonder, and meaner, the Germani apparently differed from their Gallic cousins in some other important respects. "The customs of the Germans are very different from those of the Gauls," Caesar relates. "They have no Druids to supervise religious matters and they do not show much interest in sacrifices.... Their whole life is centered round hunting and military pursuits; from childhood they devote themselves to toil and hardship. Those who preserve their chastity longest win the highest approval from their friends; some think that this increases their stature, others that it develops their strength and muscles."35
Some historians suppose an overflow of the Baltic Sea some short while before 113 drove these Germans out of their homeland.36
Others speculate that the Scythian giants took over their landsa thing hard to imagine, given the Germans' reputation for fierceness and fighting.37 In any event, an army numbering three hundred thousand Cimbri and Teutone warriors, followed by their women and children driving leather-covered wagons containing their belongings, crossed the Danube and started looking southward for a rich new land to plunder and possess.38 This great migration even struck terror in the hearts of the Gallic giants, some of whom by this late date had come to be on good terms with their much shorter Roman neighbors. From these friendly Celts probably came the first warning of vast numbers of homeless Germans on the move. It appears that they also begged Rome to send military help to protect their lands from them. Acting quickly, Rome dispatched an army to check the looters. Led by Papirius Carbo, the legionnaires engaged the Cimbri, Teutones, and Ambrones in battle at Noreia in Styria. But the Roman army proved no match for the giants, who quickly annihilated them.
Carbo's overwhelming defeat now exposed all northern Italy to a German invasion that could not be quickly checked. All across the Padanovenetian Plain, a defenseless populace waited anxiously, fearing the worst. But instead of following up their victory at Noreia, the Cimbri, Teutones, and Ambronesfor some unknown reasonmarched along the northern slopes of the Alps toward the west "and disappeared almost completely for four years."39 Then, in 109, they suddenly reappeared in Roman-occupied Provence. The Senate sent another army out, under the consul Silanus. Like swatting flies, the German giants destroyed it also and put their few survivors to a rout. In 105, the roving Germans again appeared as a threat to the Latins. This time Rome confronted them at the river Rhone, opposite Orange, with two armies, one under Caepio, the other under Manlius. The giants all but exterminated both armies. Only ten men and two generals escaped.
Again nothing stood in the way of the Cimbri, Teutones, and Ambrones occupying northern Italy, but they still did not press their advantage. Their chieftains perhaps thought even greener pastures and richer plunder might lay across the Pyrenees and decided to take a look. In any event, their detour into Spain saved Rome. The Senate hurriedly called Gaius Marius home from Africa. While the German despoilers tarried on their long sightseeing trip, Marius spent every precious hour reshaping his army and preparing a defense. "This twenty-five year old general, a military man to his fingertips, completely reformed the Roman armed forces," notes Herm. "He turned a militia into a professional army, recruited in the main from landless proletarians. These poor souls he drilled as no sergeant-major before him. With a full load of trenching equipment and stores, he made them undergo, as Plutarch says, 'long route-marches and forced them to prepare their own food.' He also insisted that every man should be able at all inspections to present himself and his kit scrubbed and polished and his weapons sharpened."40
In 102, when the Cimbri, Teutones, and Ambrones were again seen in southern Provence, Marius set out with his reorganized legions to make contact with them. On the lower Rhone he pitched camp opposite the Teutones and Ambrones, who had advanced to meet him. There Marius issued an unusual order to his men not to leave camp. But, reveals Plutarch, he made them all go "in turn to the wall and ordered them to look around and thus get use to the appearance of their enemies and their hideous savage yelling."41 By this ploy, the Roman soldiers soon overcame their fear of these vastly oversized people. Regaining their self-confidence, they began begging Marius to let them avenge the barbarians for their shouted insults.
On three occasions, the "blond-maned giants with their hair sticking up" attacked the Roman camp. But, finding it too strongly fortified and failing to draw Marius out to fight, they finally moved on. Like the patient sabertooth stalking its larger prey, Marius followed them with short marches, awaiting the right moment to pounce. One came near Aquae Sextiae, where the Romans provoked one camp of fierce Teutones and Ambrones to attack, then fell upon them from the heights above the river bank. The German giants suffered severe losses. All that night long, writes Victor Duruy, "their threats and lamentations, like the howling of wild beasts, filled the air; and the sinister sounds, echoing among the hills, filled the Romans with terror. Marius dreaded a night attack . . . but happily they remained within their camp."42
The second battle came two days later. Marius on this occasion had his cavalry give a pretense of flight. This drew the overconfident barbarians into making an attack upon the hill where he was posted. The legionnaires on the hill not only repulsed them but drove the retreating Teutones and Ambrones into an ambush Marius had placed in some woods near the camp. Here, the "little men" of Rome, though suffering heavy losses themselves, carried out a terrible massacre of the big, blue-eyed, yellow-haired Germans. Only three thousand escaped. Among these was King Teutobokh. The Sequani Celts, having suffered much from their invading, pillaging German cousins, detested Teutobokh. Seeking revenge, they overtook him in his flight and returned him to Marius. On these German giants we have no precise measurements, but we may get some idea of their extraordinary height from what was said about the captured Teutobokh. Of him we have a description that he "was a warrior of colossal height." Floras represents him to have been so tall, in fact, that when the triumphant Marius returned to Rome, Teutobokh "was seen above all the trophies or spoils of the enemies, which were carried upon the tops of spears."43 Along with his great stature, Teutobokh also proved to be a man of extraordinary strength. In later demonstrations of his physical abilities, the king of the Teutones awed his Roman captors by leaping over six horses placed abreast.44
In such manner came the Teutones and Ambrones to their horrible end. But the war was not over yet. The Cimbri, the most dreaded of these three widely feared tribes, still lived. They now encamped in the country north of the Po, awaiting the arrival of the Teutones and Ambrones. Rumors reached them there that the Romans had managed a terrible slaughter of their allies at Aquae Sextiae, but, supposing such a thing impossible, they refused to believe them. Boiorix, king of the Cimbri, even sent messengers to Marius asking him to set aside lands for themselves and for their brethren, the Teutones and Ambrones, so that they might have a place to live. "Do not be anxious about your brethren," Marius told the messengers. "They have the land that we have given them, and will keep it for ever." When Boiorix's embassy still refused to believe it, and threatened to punish Marius for his lies, the consul had Teutobokh and the other captive giants brought before their eyes, bound in chains.45
When the returning messengers told this to Boiorix, the angry and an aggrieved king, accompanied by a few horsemen, rode boldly into the Roman camp and challenged Marius to a decisive battle. The consul quickly agreed. The two parties then decided to meet on the plain of Vercellae three days hence. On the appointed day, one hundred and eighty thousand Cimbri took up a position in the plain. There they formed a square whose sides measured nearly four miles.46 Behind them waited their wives and children and the other noncombatants, with their wagons. From the throats of the vast multitude of warriors and even their families now came horrible war cries and shouted singing. Meanwhile, the horn blowers and trum-peters rent the air with their stirring calls to battle. The charioteers began lining up in their appointed places. Some of their splendidly adorned cavalry, which numbered fifteen thousand, pranced about, eager for battle. They wore helmets made to resemble the heads of wild beasts with gaping jaws, and above these rose plumes of feathers. This adornment, as calculated, caused them to appear even more frightful, even more invincible, and even more enormous than they already were.
As the savage hosts worked themselves into a frenzy, Marius and his legionnaires approached from the east, with the sun and wind at their backs. Why from that direction would soon become evident. As the Roman legionnaires entered the field, the great Cimbri army set itself into a motion that Plutarch likened to the billowing of a furious ocean at high tide. As was their custom, the bravest of the Cimbri, with blood-curdling yells, led the attack. So that their ranks might not be broken, those in the forefront bound themselves together with iron chains attached to their belts.
This surging tide of blond barbarian giants the Roman foot soldiers attacked first with their javelins. The breech this created allowed the Romans to get inside the Cimbri lines with their swords. As the battle progressed, a big cloud of dust rose from beneath the combatants' trampling feet. The light wind at the Romans' backs blew this dust mostly into the faces of the Cimbri. The hot August sun also began to hinder their sight. To shut out the harsh glare, the heavy-sweating Cimbri warriors now and then lifted their shields at the sun, thus exposing more of their large bodies to the Romans, who slew them almost at will. After great numbers had been killed and it became evident to those still alive that there was no chance to turn the tide of battle, many brave German giants bound themselves together with chains to fight to the last man. But some sought refuge among their wagons. Then before the Romans' eyes occurred a most unusual scene. The female giants, reports Plutarch, "slew all that fled, some their husbands, some their brethren, others their fathers." With their hands they then throttled their little children and threw them under the racing wheels of retreating chariots or before the pounding hoofs of horses or draft animals. Then they killed themselves.47 (See Caesar's Triumph over the Giants; Celtic Giants; Giants Who Became Gods; Gomarian Giants; Rome vs Senone Giants; Twilight of the Celtic Giants)